Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Sufi Ethics: What the Seeker Needs 3


Extracts from a classic text: Book of the Quintessence Concerning What Is Indispensable For the Spiritual Seeker (transl. - Tosun Bayrak) Muhiyy ad-Din Ibn 'Arabi

1- Be giving, generous
Learn to give, whether you have plenty or little, whether you are happy or in pain. This is a proof of your faith in Allah. Try to satisfy the needs of the needy. This is an affirmation that Allah has assigned everyone's sustenance and nothing will change it. This is a proof of your trusting in Allah.
 
2- Do not be miserly
A miser is a coward. The accursed Devil whispers in his ear that there is no death, that he will live a long time; that the world is hostile; that if he gives he will be left destitute, dishonored, and alone; that he should not be fooled by the plenty that he now has, for no one knows what will happen tomorrow. Worse still, if the miser has little, the devil tells him that soon he will have even less. No one will help him; he will be a load on others and will be detested. He has to look  after himself. If these evil imaginations capture the heart one may be led to he edge of hellfire.
On the other hand, the ones who give their ears to Allah hear His blessed words. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:...and whoever is saved from the miserliness of his ego, these it is that find salvation. (Hashr, 9)
 
3- Do not be negative and control your temper
If you wish to find the truth and have Allah's pleasure and support in it, then avoid being negative and control your temper and anger. If you cannot stop anger, at least do not show it. When you do this, you will please Allah and disappoint the devil. You will begin to educate your ego and straighten and shorten your path. Anger is a result and a sign of the ego not being under control, like a mean wild animal untied and uncaged. As you hold your temper, it is as if you put a bridle on its head and barriers around it. You begin then to tame it, teach it how to behave, to obey, so that it cannot hurt others or itself (because it is a part of you).
 
4- Be just, peaceful, helpful, gentle and loving
Allah will treat you the way He has ordered you to treat others. So try to assume the good qualities of being just, peaceful, helpful, gentle, and loving. Persist in these qualities; act with them. You will see that this character will spread from you to others around you, creating harmony, mutual love, and respect. The Beloved of Allah, our master the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), orders us to love each other, to be in a continuous loving state. He repeats this in so many ways, in so many statements. To leave anger, to replace it with bearing hardship, with forgiving, with caring for the one who causes the hardship, is one of the cornerstones of the foundation of love.
 
5- Open your heart to spiritual influences, listen to the voice of your conscience
Open your heart in order to receive divine benevolence. A benevolent heart becomes the mirror in which Allah's favors are manifest. When the divine favors manifest and come through you, when you feel His presence, you will feel shame at your improper actions. This will cause both you and others to have conscience. Thus your benevolence will protect you and others from sin.
 
6- Repent of your misdeeds
Wake before sunrise, remember Allah, and repent. When repentance follows sin, it erases it The sin disappears as if it never happened. When repentance follows a benevolent action or prayer, it is like light upon light, grace upon grace. To remember Allah and to praise Him unifies the heart when it is scattered all around - like a mirror broken into a thousand pieces - and mends it, makes it into one, and turns it towards the One. Then all trouble leaves the heart, and it is filled with the joy of the One whom it remembers.
 
7- Strive to reform the faults of your lower self
Say to the self: "Indeed, after the aura of death has rendered you prostrate and life is fading away, if you can remember at all and repent, that repentance will not be accepted by Allah. The Prophet whom He sent as a mercy upon the universe said that though Allah accepts your repentance until the time when your breath is being choked out of you, at the moment of your death throes it is too late. Death comes without: warning - to some while eating, to some while drinking, to others while sleeping with their wives, to others in deep sleep from which they do not awake. Whoever, before that, has not turned from falsehood to truth, has not repented but persists in sinning, will fall into the abyss of death."
Talk this way to your self. Try to discipline and educate the desires of your flesh. As. they are persistent in sinning, be persistent in convincing them to stop sinning. If you keep warning your lower self, with the help of Allah the knots binding your heart will be untied. That is the only way to be saved.

8- Fear the retributions of your misdeeds
The fear of Allah is a protection, the thing that guards you from harm. Allah's protection is the strongest of all armor, of all fortifications; no harm can penetrate it. That is what divine fear secures for you. The Prophet of Allah, whom He sent as His mercy upon the universe, himself took refuge in his lord. Praying to Him, he said, "I take refuge in Your pleasure, in Your beauty, in Your gentleness, from Your wrath and Your strength. I take refuge in Your divine mercy and compassion, from your punishment. I take refuge in You from You."
 
9- Strive to follow god, fearing karmic retribution
Seek, learn about, and imitate the beneficent acts of your Creator that manifest all around you. Protect yourself against divine wrath with acts and deeds in accordance with Allah's pleasure. Whatever act, whatever thing, whatever path is under the shadow of doubt and fear, do not come close to it. Leave it. Know that knowing your Creator and obeying Him is the only path that will lead you to peace and felicity.
 
10 - Do not be fatalistic or agnostic about karma
While you persist in sinning and stubbornly refuse to see your errors, why are you so proud that Allah treats you with patience, kindness, and generosity in spite of your sins? Is it that you are fooled by what the devil whispers in your ear, saying, "If it weren't for your sins and your revolt, how would Allah manifest His infinite mercy, compassion, and generosity?" Don't you see how irrational that evil teaching is? Would it be less merciful and beneficent for the Owner of Infinite Wisdom to prevent His servant from opposing His will and pleasure?
 
11- Seek to be chaste and pure and develop the discrimination to do so
It falls upon you to examine each act, each word, each act of worship, each relation with others such as friendship or marriage. You must find whether each thing is good or bad, clean or unclean, right or wrong-in other words, lawful or unlawful. In some cases it is clear; then you must choose the right over the wrong. In some cases it is doubtful; then you must leave it as if it were wrong and seek that which is sure.
 
12- Do not give in to the temptations of the lower self
Chastity is the foundation of religion and the path to truth. If you are chaste, all your deeds will be pure and sincere; all you do will end well; you will be in harmony with the divine order. You will be the recipient of divine generosity; all will turn to you. You will be under divine protection. If you are chaste and pious, avoiding the wrong and the doubtful, there is no doubt that you will receive all these blessings.
 
13- View the world as a ground for trials and learning experiences – face them with detachment, acceptance and equanimity
This world is a place of preparation where one is given many lessons and poses many tests.
Choose less over more in it. Be satisfied with what you have, even if it is less than what others have. In fact, prefer to have less. This world is not bad - on the contrary, it is the field of the hereafter. What you plant here, you will reap there. This world is the way to eternal bliss and so is good - worthy to be cherished and to be praised. What is bad is what you do with the world when you become blind to truth and totally consumed by your desires, lust, and ambition for it.
 
14- Do not abandon the world, participate actively in it
This does not mean that you should abandon the world, not do your duties in it or participate in its affairs - retiring to a corner, making no effort, doing no work. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) says, "Allah likes to see the believer working at his profession." "Indeed Allah likes the one who has a craft." "The one who earns his sustenance lawfully through his efforts is beloved of Allah." These sayings mean that Allah's beneficence encompasses all who work hard in a craft or business in this world. It is for this reason that all the prophets worked for their sustenance.
 
15- Do not be wordly
When the love of the world fills your heart totally, it leaves no space for the remembrance of Allah. Forgetting the hereafter, you prefer this temporal world. All that you need from the world is something lawful to satisfy your hunger, something with which to cover yourself, and a roof over your head. Let these be the only things you ask from this world, nothing more. Don't be envious of the apparent temporal abundance the world-bound seem to enjoy, nor wish for the riches they have gathered without any consideration of right or wrong, of lawful or unlawful.
Someone who chooses this temporal world over the true good of the eternal Hereafter will never reach his goal, either here or there. For the ambition of one who is ambitious for this world will never be satisfied. …The desires of this world are like sea water. The more you drink of them, the more you thirst….Do not exchange your spiritual peace and the possibility of eternal bliss for the temporal,decaying goods of this world. No matter how grand and secure they look, they will die when you die. Death may come in your next step upon this earth, and all your dreams of this world will evaporate.

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